On the first workday after new year’s 1948, Giuseppe Busso reported back at the Alfa Romeo Portello factory in Milano. He writes in his mémoires “Nel Cuore dell’Alfa” that he is so proud of the welcoming he gets from dottore Satta, but also that he is a bit nervous about taking the high position of manager for all mechanical design. Everybody knows he is returning from Scuderia Ferrari after a couple of successful years, but there are many seniors of Ingenere Busso, only 35 years old. But he is soon pleased to see that he is well respected and after a couple of months he is already deeply involved in new and exciting projects and his wife and two children are summoned back from Modena to a new apartment in Milano.
Gioachino Colombo is once again back with Ferrari but will return to Alfa Romeo in 1951 for the second Formula 1 season for the Milanese team. According to Busso, Colombo has not done much about the poor road-car line-up at Alfa Romeo. In stead they fielded the tipo 158 in Grand Prix racing during both 1946 and 1947, where the professional team totally dominated the evolving scene across Europe and in South America. This would continue in 1948 and it was Busso’s staff who did the fantastic development to the 1500cc compressor car until it was finally retired efter 1951. Colombo had developed a more modern 6c2500 Competizione, and it was ready for the 1948 racing season, but Satta arranged for Busso and his colleagues to develop a new 3-liter straight-6 engine that would go into the proper post-war Alfa Romeo; road-car and race-car.
During the war-time refuge at Orta Giuseppe Busso had been part of Wifredo Ricarts “Gazella” team, where they had developed such a kind of car, and the top management wanted ‘something like that’ to become reality for the emerging market in Europe and world-wide. Ricart had left in 1946; Satta Puliga took over and at the same time the Alfa Romeo President, Pasquale Gallo had installed Gioachino Colombo as a special consultant - with the same authority as Satta! This was a terrible decision and it only escalated the tension within the suffering company. Gallo even said in public that he could not see a future for Alfa Romeo; and in fact piston aero engines would soon became obsolete and it was very evident that there were no markets for expensive Alfa Romeo supercars anywhere. But the president of the company shouldn’t air such opinions; he should try to do something about it.
Somebody else did. Giuseppe Luraghi was a high-positioned engineer and organizer in the Industrial Reconstruction Council in Roma, IRI, and he evidently had his eyes fixed on Alfa Romeo. He would later take over as President of the company and lead the it through the period from Giulietta to Alfetta; he and Orazio Satta clearly collaborated and showed great patience during this early period, and Busso also recognizes them as a stabilizing force in everything.
With Colombo out of the way, Satta could focus on the big and important task: Designing a car that would be cheaper to build than the 6c2500 - while still being better and more modern. Something that would sell in big numbers. Luckily the 6c2500 was still a better family car than any postwar Ferrari and this allowed Alfa Romeo to sell 1.800 cars from 1945 until 1951 when the 1900 came out. On top of this they mainly earned profits from 5.500 trucks and busses - and 3.200 industrial engines during that period. But this was not enough to sustain a factory of 7.000 employees.
Busso finished his 6c3000; with a new not-Jano engine, with double wishbone, coil spring and telescopic damper front suspension and trailing arm transversal torsion bar rear suspension … and it was cancelled. The directors found it too expensive, and that actually seemed like a wise decision. But Busso was irritated “sending another brilliant design to the cemetery like the Gazella, the S-10 (V12) and S-11 (V8) designs by Ricart”.
In stead, everybody was very busy supporting and improving the Grand Prix racers and supporting the Sports Car races in the 6c2500 Competizione. In 1950 when the Alfettas dominated the newly inaugurated Formula 1 championship, Busso was allowed to install one of his 3000 engines in a 6C Competizione. You can read in period sports articles that everybody expected Alfa Romeo to win races like the Mille Miglia, repeating Biondetti’s 1947 drive in the pre-war 8c2900 sans-compressor. And in fact they almost did in both 1948, 1949 and 1950. And remember how Fangio should have won in 1953? Seen from the period, Alfa Romeo was still a top contender.
Busso had spent time right from the start, when Satta started what was originally known as the 4c1800, to promote his FWD ideas again. Satta actually approved and agreed with Busso; so much so, that he brought the sketches with him to Roma - where he was duly kicked out and sent back to Milano “Have you lost your minds?!”
And this is where Oreste Peverelli enters the opera.
He grew from a position of chairman for the Alfa Romeo dealerships in Italy to a special delegated role as sporting director; according to Elvira Ruocco he was the one who announced that Alfa Romeo would take part in Formula 1 in 1950. And apparently he was a man of a certain presence. Busso just found him noisy and there is no doubt that Peverelli really tried to blame Busso, Garcea and Satta when there were difficulties in the initial 1900 development project.
Giuseppe Busso had met Peverelli during 1945, when he used his motorcycle to drive around with the family - all four of them on the bike itself. He was stopped by the police and used the opportunity to hide the machine away at the Peverelli Alfa dealership in Como while they visited the area on holiday. He quickly recognized Oreste Peverelli as a man of power and importance and thought that he could use this alliance later in his career. Little did he know that his biggest difficulties would actually emanate from that very person. According to Busso, Peverelli would show up and yell in the offices and workshops at Portello - about how the engineers were utterly useless and how Satta should be fired and immediately replaced by people how knew how things were done in the good old days. He even arranged for the re-arrival of Colombo when he learned that Lampredi was back in Maranello, where Ferrari had begun listening more to ideas about four cylinder engines, de Dion rear axles and naturally aspirated Formula 1 racers - and Colombo was suffering.
Busso and his team had developed the double wishbone front suspension for the 1900 based on his original 3000 design and he had come up with a simple rear suspension with, what was later known as, a panard rod. It restricts sidewards movement while still allowing up-down travel, but it also has a tendency to unsettle the rear end, because the movements are rather ‘violent’. Busso points out that both Satta and Gallo called his design ‘genius’, but in fact the 1900 had terrible roadholding and they didn’t solve it before Colombo - now back at Portello - installed the famous A-arm on top of the differential housing. Busso then calls this a BMW A-arm, because the German manufacturer had used it on their BMW 335 racers before the war; a rigid live axle with a high roll-center. He elaborates how Raymond Sommer gave him a report from the Paris School of Engineering, where they had done in-depth testing of the BMW cars after the war.
A lot of bullshit, in stead of just applauding Gioachino Colombo for his brilliant idea. Interviews in Anselmi’s book about the Giulietta and in the 50 year anniversary Giulietta book from Alfa Romeo shows how other Alfa Romeo engineers like Landsberg and Moroni just found it great that Colombo solved this issue. Busso unfortunately crashed one of the 1900 prototypes during the winter of 1951 and Peverelli immediately used the incident to prove the incompetence of the project engineers. Terrible conditions to work under! But Satta kept his cool. He even let Peverelli convince top management that Alfa Romeo weren’t able to develop the aluminum block that was actually first used in the 4-cylinder engine.
In hindsight everybody agrees in interviews that it was just a mater of not having enough time to eliminate the vibrations in the more coarse four-cylinder engine, but they were forced to use cast iron, as we know. Satta and his team managed to get the 1900 ready for introduction and sale. It was still developing during the initial sales period, but it did actually put Alfa Romeo on track for more modern production. Garcea, Busso and Landsberg points out that, what was later found in the Giulietta, should have gone into the 1900. Oriazio Satta had this on his mind the whole time - he just couldn’t make it happen until the company and everybody was more mature in their appreciation of the new ‘modern times’ and what should be expected of a modern engineering team.
When the Giulietta Sprint came out in 1954, Oreste Peverelli publicly hailed ‘his friend Giuseppe Busso’ as a genius. Busso was furious - but from then on all became better. Partly because Satta had settled in and Giuseppe Luraghi was beginning to really set his mark.